How did John Clum’s first wife die? In the movie Tombstone, Morgan Earp tells his brother Wyatt, “They hit Clum’s house too. They shot up his wife.” Did that really happen?
My trusty sidekick editor Mark Boardman beat me to this one: “John Clum’s first wife (of three) was Mary Ware Clum, called Mollie, whom he married in Ohio on November 8, 1876. She died in Tombstone on December 18, 1880, about a week after giving birth to a daughter named Bessie. Cause of death was listed as ‘fever.’ It may well have been complications from the birth. She is buried in Boot Hill.
“There’s a scene in the movie Tombstone where all the women are in a house, huddled together on the night that Wyatt’s brothers Virgil and Morgan are both shot. A masked man comes in the front door and opens up, missing all the ladies but raising havoc.
“After that, Sherman McMasters joins the Earps, saying the attack on the women was wrong. This was all pure Hollywood. It never happened.”
For further reading on John Clum, author Gary Ledoux has written a two-volume biography on this fascinating Indian agent, mayor of Tombstone and founder of the city’s still-operating Tombstone Epitaph newspaper.